Unfortunately for Torre, the bleeding hasn't stopped. Joe Magrane, the staff workhorse, will be out all season following elbow surgery on April 4. And to further disorient fans, the Cards will have a new P.A. announcer. Their voice of the last eight seasons, John Ulett, was canned during the Gulf war for announcing on his day job at a local radio station that the continental United States was under nuclear attack.
Most jarring, though, will be the frequent disappearance of Ozzie Smith at shortstop. Torre says he will rest the 36-year-old Wizard a few days every couple of weeks; Smith says he wants out if he isn't permitted to play every day. Second baseman Jose Oquendo has been groomed to take over for Smith at short, and was given a four-year, $8 million contract in the off-season. Jose Oquendo?
The Cards' free-agent liquidation should at least free more Oquendough for the team's other young studs. "They giving you mucho pesos?" Detroit's Tony Phillips asked St. Louis rightfielder Felix Jose before a spring game. "No," said Jose, 25, who was traded from Oakland to the Cardinals for McGee last August. The money will come. Ray Lankford, 23, replaces McGee in centerfield, and leadoff hitter Bernard Gilkey takes Coleman's place in left. Lankford and Gilkey have played big league baseball for a total of 10 weeks.
"We have a lot of kids," says Torre. "You don't know what to expect until they play."
"Who knows?" says Montreal manager Buck Rodgers. "They're in the same position as we were last year, and we won 85 games."
Torre appreciates the logrolling (recall his "Buck Rodgers does wonderful things" comment). But even the Buckmeister can't really believe this team will finish above .500.